Microsoft’s Windows Phone Summit is happening now in San Francisco with Microsoft Vice President Joe Belfiore giving a demo on eight of the big new features to be included in Windows Phone 8. Some of the notables, as highlighted in the images above, include: a new SIM-based NFC wallet experience that will initially launch on Orange (and it appears to include iOS 6 Passbook-like features for third-party cards, etc.); Nokia Map technology for offline maps and turn-by-turn; and, an updated customizable home screen. During the presentation, Belfiore also showed the slide above (via CNET) of SunSpider benchmark results showing IE 10 on Windows 8 beating out the iPhone 4S (running iOS 6 beta—Developer NDA be damned) and Android devices.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Microsoft’s strategy is that it is—yet again—totally refreshing. That means no single Windows Phone 7 device will upgrade to Windows 8; all current devices are orphaned. For consumers, the company did this same thing with Windows Mobile. The only difference is that Windows Phone 7 looks like Windows 8. It is a completely new ballgame underneath, and the device is actually running an entirely new OS that gets its roots in Windows NT. For developers, things are easier due to the shared libraries.

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